What QEP Will Mean For You

Kurt Hanlon

What is the QEP?

The Georgia Southern University Quality Enhancement Plan is a university wide program that will focus on increasing the writing skills of students in every major at GSU. Officially titled “Georgia Southern! Eagles! Write! Write! Write!” the program is meant to help students strengthen their skills in writing while still being relevant to their major.

The Quality Enhancement Plan is a requirement put forth by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in order for GSU to retain its accreditation status.

The program will go into effect at the beginning of the 2015 fall semester.

The QEP aims to create two different Student Learning Outcomes (SLO), which will focus on developing writing skills that will prepare students for the workplace or advanced studies.

Students need not worry about new classes to take. The QEP does not add any required courses to any major. The QEP will simply introduce different methods of writing into existing courses, many of which already have writing assignments.

“These are called writing enriched courses,” Teresa Flateby, Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and SACSCOC Liaison, said. “They’re classes that are currently being taught…by faculty members who normally teach these classes. They won’t be faculty members from other departments coming in, they’ll be faculty members from your own department…the idea is to provide students with the kind of assignments that they might encounter when they leave the university.”

Despite the programs title, students can be assured that the QEP will not simply increase their workload or be a repeat of ENGL 1101. The QEP will enhance skills learned in core classes, and allow students to use those skills in their major.

“The writing skills are not just grammar mechanics,” Flateby said. “These writing skills have to do with development of ideas, the selection and use of credible sources to make your point…it has to do with audience awareness. So, there’s thinking involved in the writing.”

Because the QEP seeks to build upon techniques learned in entry level classes, writing enrichment courses are primarily focused on junior and senior level classes. However, each major is different, and many soon-to-be-sophomores could be seeing writing enrichment courses next fall.

QEP’s are not unique to GSU. SACSCOC requires all schools under its jurisdiction to create a new QEP every 10 years in order to stay accredited; meaning Georgia State, Georgia Tech, UGA and all other Georgia universities must submit a QEP in order to stay accredited.

According to Bartels, the university saw an increased retention rate for first year freshmen by about 2 to 3 percent the year after the QEP, FYE, was implemented which in terms of retention rating “is a big jump.”

“It’s very hard to move that number,” Bartels said. “If you look at that from when we first started to where we are now, it’s probably about 10 points up.”

Why writing?

The decision to have a writing themed QEP was chosen after extensive research by university organizations throughout 2013. After receiving data from various surveys sent to faculty and students, town hall meetings and through the review of various studies, several options appeared, and eventually the choice was narrowed down to two different themes.

Azell Francis, Student Government Association president, explained the role that SGA played in selecting between the two.

“Two major themes came out: effective writing as well as experiential learning,” Francis said. “Those were our top contenders. So we looked to see what data existed that showed what area where we could have the most improvement. Based on data and survey results we found that effective writing would be the best theme.”

According to Francis, through research into the importance of writing and the current programs offered on campus, they found that a writing themed QEP would be more beneficial to students, especially after graduation.

“The QEP teaches good thinking, good writing…it’s different than the last QEP. The last one was sort of a centralized course, this goes out to every other major. The kind of writing needed in nursing or engineering is very different than the writing need in biology or history,” Dr. Dan Bauer, Director of Writing and Linguistics, said. 

Part of the development process for the QEP was surveying businesses that GSU graduates were hired by.

“We surveyed close to 400 businesses that actually hire from Georgia Southern…and overwhelmingly they were supporting enhancing how students were writing,” Bartels said. “They talked a lot about how they use writing in determining who they were going to hire… and people did not get promoted in their organizations unless they had good writing skills.”

Nadia Dreid and Whitt Van Tassell contributed to this report.